Awards for Excellence 2023: Best bank in Singapore – UOB
UOB’s transformative initiatives have earned it the title of Singapore’s best bank once more.
Its numbers are certainly strong. Core operating profit rose 20% in 2022 to S$6.6 billion ($4.9 billion), driven mainly by growing margins across customer segments in a high interest rate environment, while return on equity grew to 11.9%.
UOB’s main business lines fired on all cylinders as income across wholesale banking, retail banking, trading and investment surged during the year. Asset quality held up well too, with the non-performing loan ratio staying steady at 1.6%.
The numbers are impressive, but how the bank, run by chief executive Wee Ee Cheong, got here is even more so. According to senior management, the results are thanks to investment and an internal transformation that began five years ago.
This has produced plenty of diversification, within different businesses in Singapore and across the Association of southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region.
In wholesale banking, half of the business comes from Singapore and the other half is international. In retail banking, the completed acquisitions of Citi’s consumer banking operations in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as in Indonesia (to be completed by year end), are set to give UOB an even bigger edge in Asean.
Technology plays a big role. UOB has made great strides in technological transformation, investing over S$2 billion in cutting-edge technology and infrastructure in 2022. This has enabled the bank to undergo a radical digital transformation, establishing a common digital backbone across markets and helping lower friction in regional transactions.
UOB has wisely stayed away from the cryptocurrency market, but has been active in the tokenization of assets and central bank digital currencies. It is all about investing in things in which management sees potential and opportunity.
UOB’s commitment to sustainability is also noteworthy. By creating sustainability ecosystems and platforms, the bank has become a catalyst for the green economy.